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EYE ON BUSINESS: Cater to the customer

Green Goddess gives a lesson in customer service

January 26, 2018
By GRIFFIN KELLY - Staff Writer ( , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - When it comes to customer service, some local business owners make it a habit of getting their customers what they want, even if it's not stocked on the shelves.

It's just good business, they say.

With smartphones and information readily available at our fingertips, many people today look to the internet before making purchases, especially when it comes to they food they eat. They seek out the perfect shop in town or an online distributor that fits their dietary preferences and restrictions.

Article Photos

Tony Hamf prepares food in the kitchen at the Greene Goddess Natural Market on Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid.
(News photo — Griffin Kelly)

However, the owners of Green Goddess Natural Market, located at 2051 Saranac Ave. in Lake Placid along with a new second location at 2149 Main St., make it their business to cater to an assortment of needs and tastes.

"We focus on having things available for a variety of people," said co-owner of Tammy Loewy. "Lake Placid's population is pretty aware of food trends."

Many people who shop at Green Goddess do so because they have diets that are gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan. These concepts have taken off if the past few years and Green Goddess works to provide for fringe and mainstream diets. The fridges and cooler sections are lined with meats from locally raised animals and organic produce, while the aisles are full of chips, pastas and breads from companies that use little to no preservatives or additives.

"We're big supporters of the natural food industry," Loewy said.

The Natural Products Association started in 1936 under than name the American Health Food Association. After 82 years and multiple name changes, the organization is now prevalent in Americans' lives more than ever. People want to buy organic. They want to buy local and know where their food comes from.

Another thing Green Goddess caters to is peoples' allergies. The eight major food allergies are milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, shellfish, soy and wheat. Let's say a customer is allergic to tree nuts and peanuts. Many health food stores offer a variety of spreads such as peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, cashew butter and pistachio butter, but not many have a high protein, nut-free spreads such as sunflower or soy butter.

In this case, Green Goddess will do one of three things: Refer them to another store, order a food they can eat or make the food themselves.

"I have no problem calling Nori's for our customers and sending them to another shop," Loewy said, referring to the village market in Saranac Lake that also focuses on organic and local products. "I want our customers to know we're taking care of them."

If Loewy has to order a product for a specific customer, she makes sure the product is of a high quality. She doesn't want go against her mission of providing organic, healthy foods just because a particular product might be cheap to buy.

"We made it our business that people can trust the products we buy and the businesses we buy them from," Loewy said. "If we feel like we can find a product that's on a high enough level to meet our standards, we'll order it instead of making a new recipe."

Another example is the kombucha bar. Kombucha is a drink made from fermented tea, making it slightly alcoholic. Loewy said she and the rest of the staff at Green Goddess are capable of making kombucha, but instead they order it from a business they trust, Aqua ViTea.

"We could make our own" Loewy said, "but the product we have is amazing and they give us a fridge and tap system."

In certain situations, Loewy and her cooks in the kitchen, Tony Hamf and Kim Scarpa, will come up with new recipes and see if customers enjoy them.

"I love the idea of making things," Loewy said. "If we get enough people interested, we'll make a new product."

One house-made product that makes an appearance every now and then is fig hummus. Loewy said it took off well, and people kept coming back for it.

"Being in the food industry means that you want to create food," she added.

However, it's not only food needs that Green Goddess caters to but supplemental needs as well. Located near the register is a rack full of vitamins, minerals and oils, alternatives to brand named products like One-A-Day and Centrum.

"We have one customer," Loewy said, "he likes to search out very rare supplements and have us find them."

Loewy takes her business practices into her own life as well. She used to order all her books from Amazon, but decided it was best and easier to buy locally. Now she shops at the Bookstore Plus on Main Street. If they don't have a book in stock, they'll order it for her.

"Even though Amazon donates a lot of money to a lot of good causes," she said. "we like to keep things local."

Loewy said catering to the customer is a fundamental aspect of her business. It builds a trust and a sustainable rapport, leading to brand loyalty, meaning they'll come back for more.

"It goes beyond a basic relationship," Loewy said. "Community is the basis for our store."



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